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Alisson the hometown hero as Brazil reach Copa America semi-finals

Alisson saved a decisive penalty in Porto Alegre as Brazil went on to defeat 10-man Paraguay in a shootout to book a place in the Copa America semi-finals.

The tournament hosts reached the quarter-finals by virtue of victories over Bolivia and Peru in the group stage, also drawing with Venezuela as they topped Group A.

That set up a meeting with Paraguay in Alisson‘s home city, with Liverpool’s No. 1 having made his name with Internacional before moving to AS Roma in 2016.

Relatively quiet through the first three games, the 26-year-old was again tasked with a watching brief for much of normal time as Brazil dominated.

Paraguay went down to 10 men before the hour mark as West Ham defender Fabrice Balbuena brought down Roberto Firmino on the edge of the penalty area.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, June 3, 2018: Brazil's Roberto Firmino during an international friendly between Brazil and Croatia at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Referee Roberto Tobar initially blew for a spot-kick, but a VAR ruling deemed the foul to have been just outside the box, and Dani Alves blasted the free-kick inches wide.

Willian hit the post in arguably the best chance of the game, but Paraguay were able to hold on and set up a shootout in the Arena do Gremio.

Gustavo Gomes stepped up to take the first, but Alisson dived athletically to keep it out, with Willian then putting Brazil one up with his own opener.

Miguel Almiron’s strike strike was cancelled out by Marquinhos, Philippe Coutinho and Bruno Valdez traded finishes, but Firmino was unable to find the back of the net, skewing wide and allowing Juan Rodrigo Rojas to restore parity.

But with Derlis Gonzalez missing Paraguay’s fifth, Gabriel Jesus scored to send Brazil through to a semi-final against either Venezuela or Argentina.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - Wednesday, June 27, 2018: Brazil's goalkeeper Alisson Becker celebrates his side's first goal during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Group E match between Serbia and Brazil at the Spartak Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking to the CBF’s official website after the game, Alisson reflected on his defining moment of the game back in Porto Alegre—on a pitch Tite described as “absurd.”

“For me it was special for being in my city, I felt the affection of all the fans,” he said.

“My team-mates also did their part, which was the most important.

“Today’s result was a draw, but we were against a team which did not want to play.

“Now we must continue working because one step has already gone and we have another ahead, to achieve our main objective, which is to be champion.”

Brazil’s semi-final in Belo Horizonte will be on July 3 for viewers in the UK, kicking off at 1.30am (BST).

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